Accountable care organization (ACO) Directory » Concepts

An accountable care organization is a type of payment and delivery reform model that ties provider reimbursements to quality metrics and reductions in the total cost of care for an assigned population of patients. An ACO is formed by a group of coordinated healthcare providers, and is accountable to patients and third-party payers for the quality, appropriateness and efficiency of the healthcare provided. 

Although the model is designed to be flexible, three core principles have been defined for all ACOs. They state that ACOs are provider-led organizations with a strong base of primary care, collectively accountable for quality and per capita costs across the full continuum of care; ACO payments are linked to quality improvements that also reduce overall costs; and ACOs have a reliable and progressively more sophisticated performance measurement to support improvement and provide confidence that savings are achieved through improvements in care.